How to Change Careers in Your 30s: Steps You Can Take Today

In this blog post, we'll discuss changing careers in your 30s and how to start your new career journey!
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Thinking about changing careers in your 30’s but unsure how to start? Read This.

Changing careers in your 30’s can seem daunting and you may not know the steps to take forward. However, finding a satisfying career is not as difficult as you might think. Learn the proven strategies that can help you land that dream job!

If you're like most people, you'll spend over 13 years of your life at work! So if your current career needs a new direction, now is the time to find out what's possible!

Your dream job could be waiting just around the bend. 

In this blog post, we'll discuss changing careers in your 30s and how to start your new career journey!

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

Can You Change Your Career Path in Your 30s?

If you find yourself wanting to leave your current career behind and start a new career at mid-life, you are not alone

Based on Pew Research's analysis of 6,627 non-retired employed U.S. adults who said they quit a job in 2021, 45% of those were age 30 and older. And most workers in this study see their new career change as an improvement!

At least half, compared with their last job, say they are now:

  • Earning more money (56%)
  • Seeing more opportunities for advancement (53%)
  • Having an easier time balancing work and family responsibilities (53%)
  • Enjoying more flexibility to choose when they put in their work hours (50%)

You can see from the study that many workers now look for work-life balance when making a career shift. If your current job requires working in an office for a set amount of hours at set times each day, odds are you can do better!

A survey by Microsoft in 2022 shows that 52% of Gen Z and Millennials are likely to consider changing employers this year. Much of this hunting for a new career is ideal in your 30s! You can transition into a career reflecting more of who you are and what's important to you.
As a thirty-something, you know what you enjoy, what you’re passionate about, and how to handle transitions in life. Yet, you're young enough to easily grow in your professional life and shift careers! 

Many famous names didn’t find their niche until their thirties, including:

  • Martha Stewart: model, then stockbroker, then started a catering business in her 30s
  • Jeff Bezos: computer scientist, then founded Amazon as a book-selling business in his 30s
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger: bodybuilding, then started acting in his 30s, (then Governor of CA!)
  • Cher Wang: Cofounded HTC at age 39
  • Harrison Ford: carpenter, then started acting in his 30s (1)

However, you don’t have to aim for wealth or fame to make a career change in your 30s. You just need to get started changing your career path. 

Doing a little bit each day adds up to HUGE benefits later! Whether you make a career change at 30 or 38, you can begin by looking at where you are now.

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Photo by Chevanon Photography

Your Current Career Can Guide Your New Career Path

If you've been in your field 5-15 years, you may consider whether it's your job or the career field that bothers you. 

Do a deep dive into what discourages you at your job. Could another workplace with a similar job fulfill your need for changing careers?

Lateral Career Path Can Make Sense

Consider a lateral move if your current job brings up these issues in a self-assessment:

  • Hours: Do you need flex time? Would you work better from home? Need more hours to cover your expenses?
  • People: Is your boss nit-picky when you need independence? Is there another difficulty that you might work through with human resources?
  • Industry culture: Gossipy back-biting behavior that no one checks? A lack of encouragement or job reviews?
  • Stifling Atmosphere: Doesn't support hard work or educational opportunities and help you rise through the ranks? Doesn't promote from within?
  • Lack of Organization: Do you wonder what you should be doing at work? Is it like "The Office," where everyone pretends to understand what is going on?

For a lateral move in the same field, check out GlassDoor for employee reviews and job descriptions from companies that might interest you. 

Transferring laterally makes for an easier job search process and can help you avoid an entry-level position. 

Finding a new job as a job seeker in the same industry can move quickly! Lateral moves can be perfect for thirty-somethings who need a new challenge or a change in their work atmosphere

Change Your Career Field

If you answer yes to these questions, it may be time for a total career jump!

  • Do you find yourself exhausted beyond your limits every single day after work?
  • Do you feel a pit of dread in your stomach every time you think about the work you do?
  • Does the actual field you work in seem boring, tedious, or outright offensive to your sense of what's important in life?
  • Is there no enjoyable lateral position in your same field? You can talk to human resources at your company if you're wondering what else they offer. Or search the jobs open at your company and see if one strikes you as potentially exciting.
  • Do you have another field that you really want to be involved in? Perhaps you already do something in this field as a hobby or discuss this work with friends constantly.

If you're not sure of the field you want, check out our offerings at Unmudl

We connect learners, educators, and employers together for a Skills to Jobs™ experience! Get support and discover new opportunities with our online resources!

Or scroll down to our BONUS CONTENT and click on courses of study, certificates, and jobs that are hot now!

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Photo by Tiger Lily

Consider Your Soft Skills

If you're determined to change career paths altogether, take a good look at the skills you already learned during your professional experience thus far. Many of your current skills already relate to the industry you want to work in.

A hiring manager, managing director, or recruiter often looks for employees with "soft skills." Because many technical positions are now automated, many jobs require the "quick thinking on your feet" skills that you probably already learned in your previous career!

In addition, as a thirty-something, you likely possess greater social and life skills than individuals graduating from college now or even in their mid-twenties. 

Baby boomers and Gen X may be lacking in some of the techy skills that are your birthright. And yet, you did not grow up chained to your phone or game device like most Gen Zers. As an older millennial, it's likely you have at least some of the skill sets in demand right now!

In a Wall Street Journal survey of over 900 executives, "92% reported that soft skills, including communication, curiosity, and critical thinking are as important as technical skills. However, 89% of those same executives reported they have a very difficult or somewhat difficult time finding hires with soft skills."

Life skills are essential for job seekers! Getting and keeping a new job includes working on your "work ethic, your attitude, your communication skills, your emotional intelligence and a whole host of other personal attributes. Knowing how to get along with people – and displaying a positive attitude – are crucial for success." (2)

If you need help considering your soft skills, ask your current employer or family members for an evaluation. Let them know you want to grow and learn! Also, you may consider a career coach or career services to learn more soft skills. 

Job opportunities abound for job seekers with these skills. You may never need to worry about a pay cut when transitioning jobs if you have the "people skills" that companies look for! 

Your 30s are a good time to grow and expand your abilities, and with a bit of effort, you can up your game for social and communication skills and win over the stodgiest of hiring managers!

Transferable Skills Matter in Career Change in Your 30s

Now is the time to brainstorm a list of your skills. You'll need to know what you're naturally good at before starting your job search. These skills you've acquired in your current field or previous career will also be useful in a new one. 

Make a list of your transferable skills and refer to it when you update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

If you're not sure where to start, think about or talk about the following with your career coach:

  • How do people describe you? (Are you a "people person" or more analytical?)
  • What are some projects you've led at work?
  • What do you do better than most people you know?
  • Do you like to stay organized throughout your day?
  • Do you work well without constant supervision?
  • How do you spend your free time? (Do you like to be active, or do you prefer more sedentary activities?)

Some examples of transferable skills include:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • Active listening
  • Research abilities
  • Analytical skills
  • Project management
  • Client relations
  • Writing skills
  • Public speaking
  • Creativity

When you start applying for a full-time job in your new career field, you'll need to rewrite your resume to include your transferable and soft skills. Hiring managers may ask about when you used these skills in real life for your interviews. 

Also, consider references who can vouch for your character, work ethic, personality, and communication skills. In your 30’s, you likely have developed many social contacts you can reach out to for good references! 

Don’t be afraid to contact those you’ve known in the past either. Most people who liked working with you will feel honored to act as a reference, no matter when it was! 

While skills acquired in your 30s may be the freshest, don't be afraid to tap back into older skills that you learned when you first started out in your 20s. 

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

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Transferable Knowledge Matters for Your New Career Path

What knowledge can you transfer into your new career direction? Many of the technical skills you've learned may ease your career transition to your new field also. 

Consider knowledge that may transfer into a new field, such as:

  • Computer software knowledge: spreadsheets, databases, graphic design tools, movie production skills
  • Formal education, degrees, additional training, online education
  • Professional experience
  • Design or artistic skills: for example, if you're moving from interior design to graphic design, you just need to learn the software and start networking!
  • Sales Skills: Almost any job requires people skills. Employers look for this quality!
  • Mechanical Skills: Working on cars for 10 years may transfer easily with one or more certifications in your new field.

How Much Time Will It Take to Make the Switch?

Changing career paths can be a full-time job in itself! The time it takes to make a successful career change will depend on many factors.

  • How much experience do you have in your new field?
  • Do you need to get any certifications or should you take classes?
  • How much free time do you have outside of work and family obligations?
  • Do you have a financial cushion to support yourself during your career change?

If you need time or money you don't have now, don't worry! You can still make a successful career change. 

You don't need to quit your day job to find a way to transition into a new career. You will need to adjust your schedule a bit to prepare, but prepping for your new career on your own time can give you the momentum you need to keep going with your preparations and job search!

Most importantly, you're taking action toward what you want and not just sitting on the sidelines letting life pass you by. If you don’t want to retire someday wondering where the time went, now's the time to carpe diem! (keep reading to see how ;)

Getting Ready for A New Career

Most people find jobs through their network of friends and family or people they know. So start by letting your close circle know you're starting a job search in your chosen career path. 

Friends and family can also give you great insights into whether a certain field is the right fit for you. 

As a career changer, make time to talk with others. Making connections is just as crucial as working on your skill sets. 

Consider these possibilities for meeting new people:

  • Informational Interview: These are meetings with people in your field of interest where you ask them questions about their career. Ask them about their day-to-day, what they love and hate about their job. It's a great way to learn more about a certain profession and hear it straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.
  • Professional Network: Find community organizations or career networking groups such as BNI and sign up! Or join online networks such as MeetUp. Widen your personal network and you may find that a friend of a friend wants to meet you! Community organizations are a panacea for career changers!
  • LinkedIn is also a great resource for finding connections in your desired field. Follow relevant companies and groups. Chat with those who make posts in your new chosen field. Don't forget to join alumni groups and career change groups where others may help you meet the right people. Also, try LinkedIn's new mentorship platform for guidance on how to reach your dream job!
 Men Having Conversation Seating on Chair
Photo by Helena Lopes

Get the Education, Certification, or Training You Need

With so many certification courses, classes, and bootcamps to choose from, it's not difficult to find your way into a new career with greater flexibility or better hours. Changing careers can be easy with the right resources, even in your 30’s!

Consider Unmudl as you take your next steps into a new industry. We offer a network of Community Colleges and Employers who collaborate on many courses to help you reach your career goals. 

Our Unmudl professional networks help you see exactly what new skills or additional education you may need to get your next job!

  • Unmudl Skills to Jobs™ Courses: Created as a collaboration between Unmudl Community College Network and Corporate Clients, these courses prepare you for a specific job in a company and often come with a guaranteed interview if you successfully complete the course! Some of these courses also reimburse you after a set period of successful employment!
  • Degree Courses: Take these for credit toward an associate's or bachelor's degree. Choose from a network of community colleges across the country!
  • Certificates: Prepare for a specific job or skillset or increase your knowledge in your new field. Find more career opportunities with a certificate!
  • Continuing Education Credits: These don't apply toward a degree or diploma, but you can level up your knowledge and skills within your target industry.
  • Check out our Unmudl blog, "7 Short Courses for a Rewarding Career Change" for ideas on how new skills can translate into a job opportunity for you!

To change careers, show others you are serious about the move. Look for internships and ways to freelance or volunteer in your new field. These can help you gain experience. 

And remember that a class, a course of study, bootcamp, or certification can go a long way toward presenting yourself as ready to hire! 

Your 30’s are the perfect time to learn new skills and move forward into a career you love to wake up to each day!

Step 9: Update Your Resume, Apply, & Interview

Once you have the skills under your belt for your career move, update your resume and prepare for interviews. 

Before you interview with a particular company, study its culture, history, employees, and business vision. Ensure they treat each employee as a human being by looking at their reviews on Glassdoor.

According to Resume.io, interview preparation consists of:

  • Know the company
  • Speaking skills (clear, cohesive, calm)
  • Think first, speak second
  • Listening
  • Show interest, not desperation
  • Show gratitude

And remember to practice, practice, practice your interview skills with a friend, family member or even by recording yourself. 

The better you know the material and are able to demonstrate it in an interview, the greater chance you'll have of getting hired!

Check out the job postings in your field on:

  • Indeed: with more than 250 million visitors every month, Indeed lets you post resumes and research potential employers. You can also search for gigs to get relevant experience here and you can target your searches with extensive filters.
  • ZipRecruiter: "You can create a profile and upload your resume (which you can keep private from your current employer if desired), browse relevant postings across various industries, and "one-click apply" to many. Application processes vary according to the companies. Some applications may require a cover letter, answering questions, submitting sample projects, and/or outlining relevant experience. (3)

Following these tips can help get you on your way to changing careers in your 30s without any angst. Just keep steadily working toward your career goals to effectively move into the dream job you’ve been wanting!

BONUS: Best Careers for Job Changers in 2022

2022 is the best time in decades to change careers! In the second quarter of 2022, the U.S. economy added over 1 million jobs! (3)  

Some careers are easier to get started in than others, and when they pay well too, that's just gravy! 

For some of the jobs below, you can even be your own boss! And, educational background matters less when you have the right skills. 

Check out some of these quick ways to move into lucrative career fields:

We hope this guide has helped you take the first step in changing careers in your 30s!

Just remember to do your research, take things one step at a time, and, most importantly, believe in yourself! You got this!

We Can Help

At Unmudl, we connect learners, educators, and employers together for a Skills to Jobs™ experience! 

Our focus on job changers already working in a career means we know how to help you transition into a brighter future!

Get support and discover new opportunities with our online resources. 

Do you have questions about increasing your skills or partnerships? 

Call us at +1 512-669-5624 or email us at hello@unmudl.com if you need help deciding where to go next!

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